East End services being cut by extra �28m, warns Tower Hamlets mayor

Town Hall budgets in London’s deprived East End are now being cut by 40 per cent, latest estimates reveal.

Tower Hamlets is having to save �100 million over the next three years instead of the previously-estimated �72m.

That will shrink the coffers by 40 per cent more than had been anticipated, critics point out, with �28m cuts on top of the �72m already chalked up for the next three years.

So public consultations begin next Monday to ask households what they would cut and what they would keep—which one Opposition councillor calls the “economics of the mad house.”

The council is already making �55m savings this year, it says—but may need to “save up to �45m more” by 2014-15.

“Tower Hamlets has some of the highest levels of poverty in the country,” said Mayor Lutfur Rahman. “But we’re being forced to bear the brunt of unprecedented cuts imposed by the Government.”

Town Hall staff have been reduced by 500 while use of outside agencies is being drastically scaled back.

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Emphasis is on keeping children centres and libraries open, at the expense of management admin which is being stripped to the bone.

But this won’t be enough, the Mayor warns.

“I will have to make some painful decisions over the next few months,” he added.

Tower Hamlets needs �18m savings in the next 12 months alone to close the funding gap imposed by Whitehall, it is estimated.

The budget for 2012-13 is being set next February. Public consultations begin August 8, which includes an online ‘budget simulator’ on the authority’s website where council taxpayers have the task of ‘balancing the books’ themselves by deciding what to axe and which services to keep.

“This is the economics of the mad house,” said Respect’s Cllr Fozol Miah.

“There must be a concerted campaign by residents, community groups and trade unions with other badly-hit inner city areas of London if we are to stop this madness.

“We need more public spending—not less—if we’re not to slide into a decline.”

The additional savings needed in the council budget he said represent an increase in cuts of almost 40 per cent—not 27 per cent as the Mayor claims.